If you've read my blog and/or followed me on twitter for any amount of time, you know that Ian Desmond is not my favorite National. His potential intrigued me in 2007 when he hit .264/.357/.432 (10.6% BB%!!!!) in high A, and again when he raked in AA and AAA in 2009. Since reaching the majors, Desmond has stopped progressing. His semi-promising 2010 season (.269/.308/.392) downgraded into a .253/.298/.358 2011 season. At 26 (almost 27) years old, players generally don't develop into completely different players, so at this point Desmond is probably going to be this type of player. But what can we expect from him going forward?
Desmond's .272/.294/.451 triple slash this season, good for a 104 wRC+ (league average is 100). His previous full season wRC+'s have been 88 in 2010 and 80 in 2011. That's quite an improvement, and even though the OBP is still awful, he's hitting with enough power to make up for it. Desmond's BB% at 3.3% is worse than at any level in his career (previous worst was 3.8% in 133 PA at AA in 2007, and his career MLB average is 5% even), but he's dropped his K% 2% since last year under 20%, which is not too bad. While Desmond is really, REALLY hacking (swinging at 36.3% of pitches outside the zone and 54.2% overall with career averages of 32% and 47.7% respectively), I can't imagine him go forth from here seeing 3.3 pitches per plate appearance with a 3.3% BB%. He'll improve at least a little.
Desmond's batting average has to stay pretty high to keep his overall batting approach around league average. At .272 right now (career .263), it's solid enough (of course, with 6 BB on the season, it still leads to a terrible OBP). I don't expect Desmond's batting average to dip anytime soon; his BABIP is actually below career average (.308 as opposed to .314, and with Desmond's speed, I wouldn't be surprised to see it get up around .320). He's hitting more line drives than his career averages (18.2% over 16.6%). The only real outlier in Desmond's batted ball stats is his 12.2% HR/FB (career average of 8.3%). His 6.0 HR/FB in 2011 was much lower than projected, so the regression would likely end up somewhere in the 9-10% range, which would still leave him with plenty of homers.
ZiPS' updated 2012 projections peg Desmond to finish the season with a .263/.301/.408 triple slash, 15 HR and 18 SB. I'd take the over on batting average and slugging, and the under on OBP. This is more or less what Ian Desmond is going to be in the near future. He's still a terrible option in the leadoff spot (don't even get me started with the .294 OBP and 3.3 pitches seen per plate appearance in the 1 spot), but he's a solid enough option to keep starting.